Personal Touch: Rachel Oliver

From drapes to rugs, Rachel Oliver meets the design needs of all her clients by matching style with personality.

Thanks for joining us, Rachel! Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design.

After graduating from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts I started my career as a graphic designer. Working for 12 years, mostly in the fields of historic tourism and real estate marketing, I decided to expand my knowledge of art history and decorative arts by enrolling in an Italian design and decorative painting school in Tuscany. That put me on the track to my second career as a designer and decorative painter.

Atlanta definitely has a vibe all its own. What elements of the city’s personality do you try to add into your work? 

Atlanta has evolved into an international city with many cultural influences. It is still uniquely southern, though, and lots of my clients really want to incorporate that into their homes, creating a warm, family atmosphere. The mostly mild climate tends to lend itself to a nice southern vibe. Linen fabrics, antiques, and oriental rugs are a big hit with a lot of metro-Atlanta homeowners, whether they have a southern heritage or not.

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Does a more unique layout always benefit the designer? Hurt?

I see just about every type of room layout you can imagine. Many newer homes here in Atlanta have windows that are two-stories tall and that is a particular design dilemma when the homeowner has to worry about privacy or bright sun. Lately, my favorite solution is to hang linen drapery from ceiling to floor that is the same color as the walls. That way it blends in with the room and doesn’t draw the eye away from the rest of the space.

The idea of flow is huge in design. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free? 

One of the things many of my clients say, is that they want to come home to a calm, soothing space, like a retreat. Having a terrific flow is the key to a harmonious and calming home. Using paint colors, fabrics, and furniture that are tailored to the space automatically begins the transformation from hectic to heavenly. You just have to hit the right notes for color, texture and style that fits the design aesthetic of the client. Going from room to room should be smooth and even transition. I am a gal that loves color, so it’s a lot of fun for me to try and balance color and flow without giving them too much of a jolt!

Area rugs are versatile and since Atlanta has plenty of loft space with hardwood floors, I’m sure you see a bunch. Tell us how you tend to incorporate them in your design?

I’d say most of my clients have hardwood or natural stone floors in their homes.  Great rugs are an absolute must! I love to start a project by choosing rugs and fabrics to get a color scheme going. That way I can create a total look where everything in the room works together and nothing sticks out as odd or out of place.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

I simply love a natural grass rug like jute or seagrass. The amazing textures really bring spirit to a creative space. But tastes and needs vary so much that I really have to see what works best for each project. I work with a lot of families with small children, so I have to be very careful and choose rugs that are durable.  Antique oriental rugs with subtle colors are really beautiful, but let’s face it, they’re expensive. It’s thrilling to have so many choices for rugs in Atlanta.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

Well, I love a great graphic rug with zig zags or geometric designs, but if the colors are too garish and the design too bold, the room is about the rug and nothing else. You’re walking a fine line with crazy patterns and colors, but in the right situation, you can pull it off! In the end, the room design really dictates the rug style.

Any final words of design advice? 

It’s all about the balance of color, texture and proportion. Start with a simple and clean design, then take it just over the top and STOP!  You’ll end up with a perfect room every time!

Thanks for joining us!

Thanks to you and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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